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Talk About It: Promoting Healthy and Realistic Media Representations

BY AMANDA MOLLER

MISREPRESENTATIONS

  I don't know about you but I've noticed that my life seems a little different to what I see represented by women in the media. For example, those women and I obviously feel very differently about our hair blowing in the wind...

G2K Good to Know, Talk About It, Promote Health not Beauty, media misrepresentation, women

  And when I pose majestically in the snow I like to wear clothes...

  G2K Good to Know, Talk About It, Promote Health not Beauty, media misrepresentation, women

  Food can be a very conflicting subject. As you can see here, I choose not to wear my best red dress and ride my hipster bike out into a field to eat my bowl of cereal. Instead, I look like a murderous troll gripping to the transformative effects of my coffee...

G2K Good to Know, Talk About It, Promote Health not Beauty, media misrepresentation, women

  And when I eat chocolate I usually don't lay around in my medieval gown (the chocolate goes in your mouth love, not on your chest...)...

G2K Good to Know, Talk About It, Promote Health not Beauty, media misrepresentation, women

  Hat's off to them though. I am still single so they may have better ideas about the art of seduction. I really should start walking around sucking on more bottles of perfume...

G2K Good to Know, Talk About It, Promote Health not Beauty, media misrepresentation, women


  I know, I know, it's all artistic expression, isn't it? We know no one really lays around eating chocolate in medieval gowns, don't be so literal Manda... Just like we know not every woman in the world is white, thin, tall, 20-35 years old and walking around perfectly made up with a head full of lush, flowing locks. Still, we see that woman in the media. A lot.

  It's no secret women feel misrepresented in the media (as I'm sure men do too). There is a major lack of variety when it comes to representing and celebrating our differences in size, shape, race, age, style, culture, unique qualities, and so on. And the representations that are in the media consistently reiterate the message to women that we should be living up to this constructed (and wrong) ideal of 'beauty'. I can't just wake up, look like a troll while I eat my breakfast, throw my hair up, get on with my day then go out for a night on the town to have a laugh. Almost every ad tells my subconscious that I must be sexy while I do it. I can't even wear clothes in the snow!

  These representations are toxic to our self-esteem and well-being. They are damaging. And they are wrong. I have battled almost my whole life against this media monster. Constantly confronted with images that tell me I'm not sexy enough or tall enough or pretty enough. Magazines that tell me what 'guys find sexy', pictures that show me the flawless skin and long legs I should have, gym ads that tell me to lose my butt, rap songs that tell me to have a big butt (and they do not lie)... Honestly it's confusing. And while I've grown a thick skin and can laugh most of it off, I'm done with accepting it. These messages make people feel bad about themselves, they miss-educate young girls, they damage. We need to perpetuate a society that promotes a broader range of body types, and that focuses on our overall health rather than how we look.

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THERE IS HOPE!

  Thankfully there are some brands, media personalities and publications that are catching on to this and that are starting to promote more varied and realistic representations of women, focusing on health rather than looks, and proving beauty comes in all shapes, ages, colours and sizes. And these are the brands, media personalities and publications that we want to promote. Listed here are some of the ones I've found. Help change the culture of media representations by supporting these brands/people and promoting health and variety over stereotypes and tired, unrealistic expectations. And if you see any others let us know!



"GIRLS MAKE YOUR MOVE" - The Australian Department of Health

  Early in 2016 the Australian Department of Health released this television commercial in an effort to inspire and empower young women to get involved in sport. The ad does a great job at representing a variety of young women, and is worth sharing to show young women that sport is not something that only elite athletes take part in, but that all of us, no matter our skill, size or where we come from, have what it takes to join in and give it a go.



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"NOURISH" - Special K

  I actually went out and bought Nourish muesli bars when I saw these ads by Kellogg's Special K. And I don't even eat muesli bars. So there. They are brilliant. Instead of the "diet" approach that we are used to in food brands, Kellogg's changed their angle and focused on health and nourishment. In addition they acknowledge the battle women have with their body image and instead of issuing a call to 'beauty' they celebrate our differences and tell women to "own it".



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"SHARE YOUR SPARK" - Aerie (for American Eagle)

  This is a great brand that recognizes the issue that many women do not see themselves represented in the media. They promote "realness", adamantly avoiding photo-shopping their models. They focus on empowering young women to celebrate their bodies, to not focus so much on how they look but on who they are beneath that, and what they are capable of.




https://www.ae.com/featured-aeriereal/aerie/s-cms/6890055?icid=Aerie:HP:sec2:Aerie:&cm=sAU-cAUD

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ISKRA LAWRENCE - Model

  One of the models in the above campaign is British model Iskra Lawrence, who is doing an excellent job in championing the realistic representation of women in the media.



  She's a regular on the fashion, style and beauty website, RunwayRiot. A great website that positions itself as one that is "dedicated to serving an underrepresented and often overlooked community ​of curvier women ​who deserve to have just as many stylish choices as everyone else".

  And can also be found on Instagram posting and promoting real and untouched pics, proving that beauty and confidence goes hand-in-hand with being our unique selves and celebrating our bodies just as they are.

  You can catch her in an interview here, thanks to StyleLikeU (see next section!).



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 StyleLikeU - YouTube Channel

  This mother and daughter duo are definitely using their superpowers for good. They use their YouTube channel to combat the media-propagated notions of "ideal beauty" by celebrating differences and beauty found in our uniqueness. 'Style' here is positioned not as something regurgitated by the fashion industry that we must succumb to, but as individual expression and an acceptance and celebration of who we are. Every Monday they release an interview (like Iskra's above) where the interviewee talks about the challenges they have faced living in their own skin, and they are very moving. So stay tuned!



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"THE DOVE SELF-ESTEEM PROJECT" - Dove

  Dove has been one of the few brands that have tried to take the focus off unrealistic 'beauty' for a while now. In 2004 they released their "Real Beauty" campaign which encompassed a broader body representation and aimed at promoting confidence in one's own version of beauty.



At the moment they are promoting the Dove Self-Esteem Project, an initiative that aims to boost the self-esteem of young women and reinvent the concept of 'beauty', moving away from it being a negative source of anxiety and promoting instead a sense of confidence.



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BAN ON 'EXCESSIVELY THIN MODELS' - France

  In 2015 the French government was next in a line of a few governments to ban "excessively thin" models in the fashion industry. This move required models to produce a doctor's certificate that proved they were considered to be in a healthy weight-range.

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ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN - Target

  In 2015 and 2016 retail giant Target (Australia) launched a series of advertising campaigns designed to represent a greater variety of Australians. These campaigns included models from a variety of sizes, ages and backgrounds in their posters and television ads, and introduced mannequins representing a variety of heights and sizes across their Australian stores. You can read more about their new policies and campaigns here. Also She Knows Australia published a great article on Target promoting positive body image.



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  Slowly, but definitely, there is a shift in the media towards a healthier and broader representation of women. We can help it. Support the brands that focus on health over beauty, promote those who celebrate differences in the female (and male) body. Let's encourage the brands that are not doing this to start adopting this approach. We are the consumers. Let's re-educate the media in what it is we actually want. Visit the Make Your Move section for more ideas on how to get involved.

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